On June 20, 10-year-old Anthony Avalos was found unresponsive at his family’s home. He had suffered severe head injuries and cigarette burns covered his body. He died on the Thursday 21st.
On Sunday, The Los Angeles Times reported that at least 16 calls had been made to LA. County’s child abuse hotline and to local police before the boy’s death:
“Callers alleged that he or his six siblings had been denied food and water, beaten, sexually abused, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours, locked in small spaces with no access to the bathroom, and forced to eat from the trash.”
The L.A. Times reports just weeks before his death, Anthony came out as gay, saying he “liked boys.”
Anthony’s aunt Maria Barron repeatedly warned authorities about Anthony’s mother Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva. Leiva was convicted of domestic abuse in 2010.
Of course it’s impossible to not mention the parallels with the 2013 death of Gabriel Fernandez, the 8-year-old boy who was brutally tortured and killed by his mother and her boyfriend in Palmdale. Earlier this month, a judge sentenced Gabriel’s mother to life in prison; her boyfriend was sentenced to death.
Welfare officials had been in contact with Gabriel’s family, and saw signs of abuse. Four social workers are facing criminal charges in that case.
On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered authorities in charge of child protection to examine the case of Anthony Avalos.
“This was an innocent child who suffered unspeakable abuse,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger at the Board’s weekly meeting. She says the boy was murdered.
“You had teachers. You had family members. You had law enforcement come in contact,” Barger said. And yet Anthony is at the morgue. There is no question that we have to do better.”